Mike Allebach of Allebach Photography is an award-winning photographer, but was a struggling business owner – until he shifted his mindset about selling, which changed his life. Now running a successful business, Mike shares the powerful and easy changes he made that turned everything around in this new Fundy School course. We’ve summarized the first lesson in Mike’s course to give you a glimpse into his strategies for business success. In this lesson, learn why print is so important, how to protect yourself from burnout, and how making $1,000 an hour is absolutely possible.
Lesson 1: This Might Just Change Your Life
Everyone has a cell phone camera these days and thinks they are a photographer. From your grandpa who posts pictures of his catch of the day to your kid who is vying to become Instafamous, professional photographers have found themselves surrounded by the competition. So, how do you, a professional photographer, build and maintain a sustainable business to support yourself and your family, while doing what you love and standing out from the crowd? Here are a few ways to start.
Photographers As Business Owners
Mike began his career as a graphic artist in 2000. As the only person in their advertising department, Mike was left to figure out how to do everything on his own; he actually learned a great deal about photography from the internet. He would bring his camera everywhere and shoot, which led to friends asking him to shoot their weddings for them. After his first child was born, Mike decided to officially start his business while still working at his full-time job.
For nine out of the 11 years Mike’s been a professional photographer, he admits that he did a terrible job at the business of photography and ultimately was not effective at running a business. It’s a dilemma that many professional photographers face. Being creatives, he says, most photographers just want to get the latest gear and shoot. Learning about spreadsheets and marketing and sales is the not as glamorous or fun, but if you want to be successful, it is crucial that you understand how to run a business.
The Good News and the Bad News
Inevitably, photographers will face burnout. Mike shares that many people jump in thinking that as a professional photographer, they will be shooting all the time and the money will just start rolling in. But running a business is difficult. As a business owner, you may find yourself working 7 days a week, 18 hours a day and most of those hours are not spent shooting.
To avoid burn out, realize that you don’t have to do everything in your business. Outsource or hire someone to do the things you don’t want to do in your business. Do you hate editing? There are myriad of great editing companies to choose from. Is answering emails taking up all your time? Hire an assistant. Are you terrible at bookkeeping? Find a great accountant in your area. The key is to focus on the things you like to do and are good at doing (like taking pictures) and find other people to help you with the rest.
But the good news is, everyone needs photos. This means that potential clients are everywhere. To stand out from every other photographer out there, provide an experience for your clients. Differentiate yourself from the rest of the digital crowd, by getting something tangible and printed into the hands of your clients.
Time is our most valuable commodity, and most people don’t want to make the time to get their photos printed, much less figure out how to get all their images into an album. This is where you come in to save the day and show additional value to your clients. As Mike shares in this lesson, “We get to create something for them that they are not willing or able to create for themselves.”
Do You Want to Make $1,000 an Hour?
It’s your job and it is to your benefit as a successful business owner to show your clients the value of printed work. It’s crucial to make it a priority to sit down with your clients and review the artwork as a wedding album and prints. Put an album in front of them, in their hands if possible (or Skype if in person isn’t an option). Get your potential clients thinking about the possibility of a high quality, beautifully designed and completed wedding album on their coffee table, instead of a USB tossed in the back of a drawer somewhere.
There will be people that won’t see the value in printed work and “that’s okay,” says Mike, “not everyone is your client.” But if you help potential clients see the value in a printed album, you have the opportunity to make $1,000 or more an hour with these sessions. Approach the client as a “friend or confidant,” not a sales person, Mike advises. He paints a picture for his clients, telling them about others who have spent thousands of dollars on photography, only to let their beautiful images sit on a USB drive for years, never getting around to doing anything with their images.
If you are able to show your clients the importance of getting those images in a tangible form, you’ll be on the path to making $1,000 an hour in no time. It’s worked for Mike, who doubled his income last year and has learned that to be a truly successful photographer, you must also be a successful business person.
Are you ready to change your life and your business with album sales? Visit the Fundy School to get started with your free lesson.